A national vote has been launched to find the nation's favourite wildflower.
As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, Plantlife has launched a campaign to find the nation’s favourite wildflower. The shortlist of 25 plants, voted for by Plantlife members, includes the UK’s national flower, the dog rose, and Wales’s national emblem, the wild daffodil, as well as more obscure and surprising options.
‘I love this shortlist it’s slightly bonkers and, in many ways, reflects us as a nation,’ says the charity’s leading botanist Trevor Dines. ‘There are plants we all know and love bluebell, primrose and foxglove but then there some real oddities. Who would have thought chickweed wintergreen, a rare plant of woods in the North, would have made the list? I’ve only seen it once. And cow parsley is viewed as road-verge weed by some. There are powerful symbols, too poppies to remember our fallen soldiers. It’s an eclectic mix.’
Plantlife’s Chief Executive Marian Spain points out that the project also has a serious side. ‘Wildflowers hold a special place in our hearts, but we often take them for granted,’ she says. ‘One in five of Britain’s wildflowers is under threat and flowers that have been present for centuries across our counties are disappearing year in, year out.’
You can vote for your favourite by going to www.plantlife.org.uk/wildflowervote. The 25 flowers are bee orchid, bluebell, chickweed wintergreen, cornflower, cow parsley, cowslip, dog rose, foxglove, grass of Parnassus, harebell, honeysuckle, lesser celandine, meadow cranesbill, ox-eye daisy, pasqueflower, poppy, primrose, ragged robin, red campion, snake’s head fritillary, snowdrop, thrift, viper’s bugloss, wild daffodil and wood anemone. The results of the survey will be announced in June.
Country Life asked leading plantsmen to nominate their favourites.
Alan Titchmarsh, TV presenter
The bee orchid, a curiously shaped flower of such insectivorous complexity that it seems unreal. Dozens of them erupted from the grassy bank outside a house on the north coast of the Isle of Wight. Then, I bought a house there myself and found that they grew in the rough turf of my garden, which was a dream come true. Despite their capricious nature, they remain my favourite
Tim Longville, Country Life contributor
The primrose, the quintessential spring flower, whether you’re in Cornwall or Cumbria, Cardigan or Co Kerry
Kathryn Bradley-Hole, Gardens Editor, Country Life
The sight of a grassy bank dotted with sweetly scented primroses seems to me the essence of all that is loveliest in spring: gentle colouring, wonderfully wafting fragrance and their doughty determination to bloom through whatever weather is thrown at them
George Plumptre, Chief Executive, National Gardens Scheme
The primrose, my favourite harbinger of spring and an integral part of proper English countryside, for the way it suddenly appears along banks and pathways and its most delicate, natural shade of yellow that is lost in all the hybrid plants produced for gardens. It’s a flower that reminds people of their childhoods and is, therefore, strongly evocative
Mark Hedges, Editor, Country Life
The startling yellowness of the lesser celandine is the starting pistol of spring
Steven Desmond, Country Life contributor
The bluebell, because it’s especially British, everyone knows it and it adorns our ancient woods each spring
Mary Keen, garden designer and writer
Many of these flowers have been favourites at one time or another, but bee orchids on chalky downs with skylarks singing overhead never fail to give me a lurch of pleasure
Simon Lester, gamekeeper
The cowslip for its deep-yellow flowers, which remind me of my childhood in Nottinghamshire
Marianne Majerus, photographer
Anemone nemorosa, also known as windflower, which aptly evokes a vision of 1,000 ballerinas shivering in the wind
Tom Coward, Head Gardener, Gravetye Manor, East Sussex
It’s hard to pick one plant above all others, but, if I have to chose, it would be the wild daffodil. We have carpets of them at Gravetye and the sight of their brilliant gold through the meadow, signalling the start of spring, is one of the most marvellous things in the year.